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Preview: Freedom to Tinker

Freedom to Tinker



Research and expert commentary on digital technologies in public life



Last Build Date: Tue, 19 Sep 2017 18:59:34 +0000

 



What our students found when they tried to break their bubbles

Tue, 19 Sep 2017 18:59:34 +0000

This is the second part of a two-part series about a class project on online filter bubbles. In this post, where we focus on the results. You can read more about our pedagogical approach and how we carried out the project here. By Janet Xu and Matthew J. Salganik This past spring, we taught an […]



Breaking your bubble

Tue, 19 Sep 2017 18:59:14 +0000

This is the first part of a two-part series about a class project on online filter bubbles. In this post, we talk about our pedagogical approach and how we carried out the project. To read more about the results of the project, go to Part Two. By Janet Xu and Matthew J. Salganik The 2016 […]



SESTA May Encourage the Adoption of Broken Automated Filtering Technologies

Mon, 18 Sep 2017 13:33:21 +0000

The Senate is currently considering the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA, S. 1693), with a scheduled hearing tomorrow. In brief, the proposed legislation threatens to roll back aspects of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA), which relieve content providers, or so-called “intermediaries” (e.g., Google, Facebook, Twitter) of liability for the content that is hosted on their […]



Getting serious about research ethics: AI and machine learning

Mon, 18 Sep 2017 13:28:11 +0000

[This blog post is a continuation of our series about research ethics in computer science.] The widespread deployment of artificial intelligence and specifically machine learning algorithms causes concern for some fundamental values in society, such as employment, privacy, and discrimination. While these algorithms promise to optimize social and economic processes, research in this area has […]



Blockchains and voting

Tue, 12 Sep 2017 13:50:34 +0000

I’ve been asked about a number of ideas lately involving voting systems and blockchains. This blog piece talks about all the security properties that a voting system needs to have, where blockchains help, and where they don’t. Let’s start off a decade ago, when Daniel Sandler and I first wrote a paper saying blockchains would be […]



BlockSci: a platform for blockchain science and exploration

Mon, 11 Sep 2017 16:53:30 +0000

The Bitcoin blockchain — currently 140GB and growing — contains a massive amount of data that can give us insights into the Bitcoin ecosystem, including how users, businesses, and miners operate. Today we’re announcing BlockSci, an open-source software tool that enables fast and expressive analysis of Bitcoin’s and many other blockchains, and an accompanying working […]



Getting serious about research ethics: Security and Internet Measurement

Wed, 23 Aug 2017 13:00:58 +0000

[This blog post is a continuation of our series about research ethics in computer science that we started last week] Research projects in the information security and Internet measurement sub-disciplines typically interact with third-party systems or devices to collect a large amounts of data. Scholars engaging in these fields are interested to collect data about […]



Help us improve the usability of Tor and onion services!

Tue, 22 Aug 2017 17:14:36 +0000

Update 2017-09-11: We have collected several hundred responses, so we are now closing the survey to begin data analysis. Thanks for your help! We are looking for volunteers for a study to improve the usability of Tor and onion services, but first some background: The Tor network is primarily known for client anonymity, that is, users […]



When the cookie meets the blockchain

Thu, 17 Aug 2017 12:56:53 +0000

Cryptocurrencies are portrayed as a more anonymous and less traceable method of payment than credit cards. So if you shop online and pay with Bitcoin or another cryptocurrency, how much privacy do you have? In a new paper, we show just how little. Websites including shopping sites typically have dozens of third-party trackers per site. […]



Getting serious about research ethics in computer science

Tue, 08 Aug 2017 13:00:58 +0000

Digital technology mediates our public and private lives. That makes computer science a powerful discipline, but it also means that ethical considerations are essential in the development of these technologies. Not all new developments may be welcomed by users, such as a patent application by Facebook that enables the company to identify their users’ emotions […]